Holga 25 f/8 Lens for Micro 4/3 review by Illya Reddy

Holga 25mm f/8 lens for micro 4/3 review

By Illya Reddy

Hello all the readers of Steve Huff’s website! Just a couple of weeks ago I got a very special product – perhaps world’s cheapest new lens – Holga 25mm f/8 lens for micro4/3 cameras. This review is going to be a short one, but I will do my best not to miss anything that you should know before spending 16$ on this marvelous product of HK photography industry.

Built quality and package

So, lens comes in rather simple package with informative manual and both lens caps (which are completely useless). I was not surprised by the built quality – plastic, plastic, plastic (even lens elements are plastic) – everything is made according to Holga’s best traditions.

When you put it on your camera you notice how light it is. This lens has approx. the same size as 17mm pancake. The front lens element is so tiny, that you don’t need any lens cap.

Grainy B/W filter with a hand-made red filter attached (a piece of red scotch tape)


Manual focus is easier than I expected, but you must get used to it. There is no distance scale for focusing, you just focus by following symbols marked on the focus ring: single portrait, few people’s portrait, group portrait and landscape. But the problem is they are completely helpless. Between single portrait and group portrait you can shoot macro only. For real single portrait I usually set lens to a group portrait symbol. Keep in mind, that lens has fixed f/8 aperture so DOF is rather large.


Holga 25mm f/8 produces reasonably contrasty images on my E-P1 (I believe it works the same on other cameras). Pictures look just right even without post processing. Of course as a Holga branded product it vignettes strongly. So I keep camera in 6:6 mode, because in 4:3 mode edges are almost completely black. The interesting thing about this lens is that if you put it on your camera likewise it doesn’t vignette.

If you focused correctly this lens can produce sharp enough results, but of course it can’t match any real lens. If you focused on something that is really close you can get some bokeh. But DO NOT do this! This lens’ bokeh is just UGLY.

Quite unpredictable results when shooting towards the sun.

Top-tips to use Holga 25mm f/8 lens

1) Never use lens cap with this lens.

2) Keep focus ring between group of people and landscape marks. It suits most situations so you won’t miss shots.

3) Keep ISO at 640-800 in the daylight – lens is really dark.

4) Set camera to 6:6 aspect ratio.

5) Set Middle Fine image quality, because there is no point wasting space for 9mp square shots since lens can’t produce detailed enough image for such resolution.

6) Soot JPEG only. This is lomo lens, don’t waste your time – just shoot.

Bottom line

My heart is really attached to this piece of plastic. I love the ease of use, form factor and images it produces. The overall image you get from Holga lens I’d describe as a cheap-film-camera-like lomo-ish effect. It is definitely not for everyone. But I really LOVE it. I can just take this lens with me to some boring place and get some interesting shots. Because it makes me think more creatively, out-of-the box.

Thank you for reading!

If you are interested in my photography feel free to visit my flickr page http://www.flickr.com/photos/illyareddy/


  1. I just had to by one, 15$ from Hong Kong. Free shipping.

    I also have a Hoga, but rarely used.. maybe I also by 120 film.

    Like you pictures Illya, as the last one is my favorite!

    Ivan Holmedal

  2. Loose the lens cap is from the film Holgas as you don’t view the image trough the lens you often can forget the lens cap and have some nice black images!
    Also the scratches on the lens render the image more unique then the Holga of your friend!

    Love the last image!

    Most shoot some more with my Holga 120 and 120WPC!

  3. Cool. The phone booth picture is also nice, and the second one.. but what’s the problem with the lens caps?

  4. I don’t understand the purpose of the Holga lens. The quality terrible. It’s worse than my circa 2003 camera phone. Sorry but it’s the truth.

  5. Got mine few months ago, it’s fun once in a while shooting the right subject with this lens – like, an old Citroen makes for a fine image, an hi-tech Ducati bike makes not.
    BTW: for anyone saying “I can have this look on every image using program XX”, I say
    “Spend MORE time going outside shooting and LESS inside your home editing!” 😉

  6. Bravo! How fun. Just adore the last b&w portrait with hands up to eyes. Simply wonderful, soulful and powerful. Just may have to get this for my newly acquired Oly OMD-EM5.

  7. I like the images, very much actually. But I don’t get why you would spend $16 on a new plastic lens. I can warmly recommend to all of you to adapt any old camera lens by glueing it to a body cap. It takes some trial and error to get the correct focal distance, but it is fun and cheap.

    Some results with a Konica WaiWai 17mm lens on Leica (I actually payed to buy this camera, $10 shipped, but it is the cheapest superwide in M-mount I’ve ever heard of…):

    And a whole group of homemade lenses:

  8. @chris

    It’s about the image, not the pixel-peeping technosnobbery that pervades forums. I’m happy to have this lens in my kit along with my Oly 45 & 12 mm lenses. If I was to label something crap, it would be your comment. How does it contribute to the dialog, except to show that you value technical perfection vs image content. Think pictures, not science. Just sayin’

  9. Ummm, even the free Picasa 3 has this Holga-ish effect… I actually use it often to desaturate images. 😉

  10. After checking out these shots I decided to order one. I’ll readily plop down $1000 on a new lens or body but I was constantly debating whether I should get a holga or not for fun. Why am I debating $15… lol.

  11. I love your name Illya Reddy!
    Love the last shot too.
    Holga was the camera that brought photography into my life.
    It will always have a special place in my heart for that reason 😀

  12. save the best for the last! i’m a holga user and i think they looked like the real deal. nice use of grains too 🙂

  13. Holga….the most overrated cameras/lenses I have ever heard of….not my thing. With that said, I LOVE that last picture….just awesome.

    Personally I would rather have good lenses/cameras and if I want the ‘holga’ look I’ll run the file through Nik Effex.

  14. Second pick kind of looks like slenderman. As a matter of fact the picks in this article could be rearranged and have some story added and make for a nice scary tale of slenderman. Very cool!

  15. What !
    Photography is not only about megamega pixels, sharp-sharpest lens, minus one aperture, indecent prices… !
    Really love your pictures ! I will soon order a cheap piece of plastic for megamega fun !

  16. The last pic is a gem.
    Looks a fun lens to use and no need to worry about it getting damaged because you can always buy another.
    Nice post- thanks Illya.

  17. I also enjoy the same lens on my GF1.

    The build is well below rubbish but then ‘boom’ it puts a big smile on your face.

    Great post!

    Thanks for bothering!

  18. Last is great, and the dreamy feeling in the first too. Liked. Glad to see this “lens” here. I smiled reading your words.
    Maybe Steve could make some comparations vs. Noctilux! 😉

  19. Yes, this lens produces the look of a fading dream. A very artistic tool in the right hands. Again it is all about how the photo can touch people not how scientifically perfect it is.

  20. This lens keeps coming on my canon 5d2 from time to time. I agree, it is not for everyone. My kids call it “a memory lens” and I think they got it right. The images it produces make you think you saw them in your dream.
    Thanks for the review, Illya!

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